Authority of international institutions: The case for international human rights treaty bodies

International human rights law treaties and their monitoring institutions raise important questions about the moral standing of institutions outside of the state and on what terms such institutions should be understood in political theory. The unmatched institutional nature of human rights treaty bodies presents a challenge for political theorists as it is not clear what the theoretical conception of these institutions ought to be and what concepts are relevant in assessing the point of these institutions. The aim of this article is to supply an argument for what the appropriate conception of authority applied to human rights bodies, as a distinct type of international institution, should be. For this, we survey the repertoire of moral reasons available in assigning authority to human rights treaty bodies in the current literature and assess the strengths and weaknesses of such reasons. The central argument of the article is that a successful theory for the justification of authority of international institutions has to account, firstly, for the very purpose of the authoritative relationship and, secondly, provide special and sufficient content-independent reasons to comply with the directives of these institutions.
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